Best divorce advice


When I pushed “record” on my flip cam at 11:32 p.m. one night to talk about the best divorce advice I’d ever gotten, I expected to film a quick video because the most sage input I got through my 16-month dissolution of marriage and in the years since was one simple sentence. But once I started talking, I couldn’t stop. That little bit of advice has really become a way of living my life, charting my career, organizing my home and choosing friends, a boyfriend, and even what to write about. {Watch the video here.}

The best break-up advice for me was not about navigating court dates or holidays away from my kid or online dating. It was more macro than that. It was about living better. And much bigger.

“Your life is bigger than one man,” one of my best friends told me during one sobbing jag (mine, not hers). I ran with it — far. And then I dropped the last two words and plastered it on the bulletin board behind my laptop: “Your life is bigger than…” When I get stuck, I put the obstacle (a deadline, a boss, an insecurity, a frustration) at the end of that sentence. When I question myself, I fill it in with the worry (too tired, going it alone, have never tried it before, need 400 more hours of research). And I know I’m on to something that’s great for me and my boy when I find something that points right back at the “My life is bigger than…” with something I know my big life includes (a vacation to Hawaii, a boyfriend who lives in the same city, running a 5K with my kid).

It’s not just advice for outlining the wow-factor, either. It helps me get through small moments that make me want to scream, file a(nother) motion or journal like a sixth-grade girl who can no longer bear the mockery over her braces and tiny boobies. It put those crises in perspective, so I can pull back the camera and take a look at how it fits in the whole story and strategize how to minimize pain and maximize well-being.

That’s the thing: divorce advice can’t just be about divorce, because ending a marriage is about much more than a piece of paper or that one relationship. It’s about who you have been, who you want to be, what kind of relationship you seek with other people and yourself. It’s about your children, if you have them, and how you will steer their sails through this and other storms. It’s about moving up-stream, not pushing back through the impossible current.

You might use it for the small stuff, but the best break-up map keeps unfolding into uncharted territories.

I asked readers and friends to tell me the best advice they got during their divorce. I was surprised how many people could only remember the negative comments. I was also taken aback by how much of the advice was about being with someone new.

Let’s forget those words for a while and focus on the self-helpy, hoodoo-guru-y stuff that puts the wheel back in our own hands. Here’s some more great advice from people who’ve made it through:


What’s the best break-up advice you’ve ever gotten? How did it apply to the rest of your big life?


Read more of Jessica’s adventures as a single mom in the city at Sassafrass.

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Ogle shoes together on Pinterest.


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